Does Florida Law Treat Inheritance as a Marital or Non-Marital Asset?
When dividing property during a divorce, the question “Is an inheritance a marital asset in Florida?” may cross your mind. As you may know, any marital assets – the property that you and your spouse own together – will be split during the property division process. But what about inheritance?
Whether an inheritance will be considered a marital asset depends on multiple factors, including whether:
- The inheriting spouse kept the inheritance separate;
- The inheriting spouse commingled the inheritance with other marital assets; and
- The inheritance was left to one or both spouses.
Equitable Distribution and Inheritance
In order to understand whether an inheritance will be “split” between divorcing spouses, you need to know how Florida’s equitable distribution process works.
After a divorce, Florida courts divide marital property in a manner that is not only fair but also equitable. However, the process of property division is not necessarily “equal.”
Unlike community property states that split all assets acquired during a marriage equally, Florida’s family law provides that while the distribution should be fair, courts may adjust that division when adjustment is appropriate for the couple’s unique situation.
To do so, courts will review and consider a plethora of factors, including:
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The financial circumstances of the parties; and
- Contributions of spouses to each other’s career or education, among many other factors.
Is Inheritance a Marital or Non-Marital Asset in a Florida Divorce?
Under Florida law, courts can divide only marital assets and debts. Any assets acquired during the marriage by spouses are considered marital assets (real estate, cars, mortgages, cars, bank accounts, and others).
If the item was acquired only in your name, a Florida court would likely consider it a marital asset. Thus, if you bought a car during the marriage but the vehicle is listed in your name, it may still be considered a marital asset.
But is an inheritance, which you received during the marriage, a marital asset, too? If an inherited home or another asset was put in both spouses’ names, the inheritance is considered a marital asset.
Non-marital assets and liabilities are any items acquired by either spouse before the marriage. Generally, gifts and inheritance received during the marriage are also considered non-marital assets, unless the inherited asset was put in both spouses’ names.
Also, any income received from non-marital assets and items exchanged for non-marital assets is considered separate property. For example, if you inherited a home in the course of a marriage and decided to rent out that house, any rent money you receive is considered non-marital assets.
Was Inheritance Commingled with Your Marital Assets?
Commingling is mixing or converting the non-marital assets into marital assets during the marriage. This can happen if a spouse does not treat his or her non-marital assets separately and ends up commingling marital with non-marital assets.
As a result, any commingled non-marital assets lose their special status. Thus, if you inherited a home and decided to sell it, and then used that money to purchase marital property or pay joint debts, you have committed what is known as commingling.
However, a knowledgeable Orlando property division attorney may help prove to the court that the commingled non-marital asset should not be treated as a marital asset during your divorce proceedings. Reach out to Donna Hung Law Group to talk about your options. Call at 407-999-0099.